Giving birth is probably one of the biggest milestones in any woman’s life. Am I allowed to walk around during labor? Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy? Is the shape of this baby bump normal? Is it okay to sleep on my back? Too many questions, and concerns take over the mother’s mind. But instead of resorting to social media where people’s guesses are not always guaranteed, founder of YourEgyptianDoula Facebook and Instagram pages, Merette, offers a more trustworthy option to help mothers-to-be. She’s a birth doula and trained childbirth educator under Lamaze International, aiming to enhance a mother’s birthing experience. We’ve talked with the interesting lady about her work and here’s what she told us.
Can you please explain to us what a doula does exactly?
A doula is your personal cheerleader, advocate, and labor coach all-in-one. Doulas are not medical professionals, but rather coaches and advocates that guide parents through labor, delivery and post-delivery. We provide physical support, which helps decrease discomfort; emotional support, which decreases fear and tension, and informational support, which increases confidence in birth and the decision-making process.
Why do you think having a doula –and knowing detailed information about labor– helps the moms?
The more you know, the more able you are to make a decision that you feel confident about. It is very important to ensure that mama is feeling safe, informed, prepared, and calm during birth because when a mom starts freaking out, she is likely to be in more pain, and labor will take longer.
When and how did you realize your passion about birth and helping pregnant moms? And why did you think this passion resonates with your personality?
I have always been so amazed with birth and pregnancy. Women are so strong! Growing up, I knew I wanted to support moms during labor and delivery. Unfortunately, I have witnessed the inaccessibility of information on women’s health in Egypt, especially when it comes to reproductive health, pregnancy, labor, and delivery. I am grateful to have been raised by a mom who encouraged me to learn, to speak up, to question, and to trust my intuition. These things pushed me to educate, advocate and empower expecting families with information as they prepare themselves for parenthood.
Through your page, you advocate the vitality of women’s freedom of choice during labor, why do you think this is important?
Unfortunately, too many mamas walk in not knowing all their options –which makes them relinquish the power of their birth entirely to the hands of their doctors. At the end of the day, moms and their babies are the main actors in birth; they will live with the memory of the experience forever, and will be responsible for their healing and bonding afterwards. Moms should have the option to choose or deny an intervention, especially in a non-emergency situation. There is nothing more incredible in the world than to watch a person achieve what they have set their minds towards, and the same thing applies in birth.
What kind of choices do you think a mother should make, and what kind of choices are to be left for the doctor? Where is the line?
The principle of informed decision-making means that decisions are made as a team. Doctors, who are the experts in medicine, and moms, who are the experts in their bodies and intuitions, discuss all related information together and decide on the best course of action. Even in emergency situations, a similar, abbreviated conversation can dramatically reduce the trauma, and help mom feel empowered. Since many doctors have limited time, many partners and familial pressures intervene. Having a doula facilitates the conversation between all the parties. Doulas never make any decisions; they simply provide the space for moms to have a positive and empowered birth experience.
Mothers have been giving birth without resorting to a doula, how would you encourage them to approach a doula now?
If you look back to the oldest civilizations, women have always supported laboring women in childbirth. It is only quite recently that we’ve shifted heavily towards hospitalized births, leaving women all alone, often drugged up, in pain, or traumatized, which may later result in mental health disturbances. Having the continuous labor support has been proven to have positive implications on both mom and baby.
Another point that you call for is avoiding the separation between mothers and their babies after just giving birth, why? What kind of drawbacks does mother-baby separation have?
This is the latest evidence and recommendation of the World Health Organization. Immediate skin-to-skin with babies results in an easier transition for baby, improved lung and heart rates, regulated body temperature, improved blood sugar, experiencing less pain, less crying, and better communication between mom and baby. If it’s not possible with the mom, the skin interaction can be with any family member. Separating mom and baby results in more difficult postpartum healing for moms. If necessary, the first hour tests can either be delayed or done while the baby’s with the mom.
How would you prefer undergoing your own labor, and why?
When the time comes, I think I would prefer labor in the water. Water birth not only makes labor shorter, but also less painful. I would like to be mobile in the water and have the flexibility of laboring in different positions. Additionally, the transition for the baby in the water is also less harsh. The science behind water birth is truly fascinating, in both its simplicity and effectiveness.
For more information about childbirth education classes, doulas, and labor and delivery support, please check out @youregyptiandoula and/or email Merette at: firstname.lastname@example.org